Friday, January 10, 2014

quizzical

No, I don't know what it means. Do you?

When I was in New York, the talk at brunch was this New York Times regional dialect quiz. Of the six people (including myself) I know who have taken it, the results nailed the region where that person was raised or spent a significant part of their life.

 I lived in D.C./Virginia/Maryland until I was 14, San Francisco Bay area from 14-27, then New York and New Jersey (more recently Massachusetts). The first time I took the quiz my 3 cities were San Francisco, Oakland and Fremont (California). I took it again (there is variation in 5 or 6 questions) and it was San Francisco, Oakland, Newark/Paterson (New Jersey). (Weird--I worked in Paterson for many years.)

I had to think about some of the questions, and decided to go with my first instinctive reaction. For instance there are lots of rotaries in Massachusetts, and people (and signs) here call them rotaries, and I might even use that word if driving with someone in Massachusetts and giving them directions, but my instinct is to call them circles which I guess is what they call them in California where I learned to drive and they don't have any, so that was my answer.

I'm curious to know the results of a wider range of people, so if you feel like taking it, you'll find it here. It's U.S. specific, but if you live in another country, you might want to try it anyway, just for fun. Of course my idea of fun might not be the same as yours...

Enjoy your weekend,
Jen

32 comments:

  1. How fun! I came up with Santa Rosa, CA, where I lived for 35 years and Modesto and Stockton, which is where a lot of Okies live and about an hour or two from Santa Rosa.

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  2. Hi Jen, I tried it twice and it got Cleveland/Akron both times, where I grew up and lived most of my life. It also gave Grand Rapids as an alternative, but other than being generally Midwestern, I have barely set foot in Michigan.

    Although I was aware of many of these alternatives (pop/soda, sneakers/tennis shoes, etc), the surprise here was that "tree lawn" is according to their map mainly a Cleveland expression. I was not even aware that there were any alternative words for this!
    --Jim

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    1. It's kind of eerie how accurate it is. (I have no idea what a tree lawn is though.)

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    2. Sorry, a tree lawn is the grass between the street and the sidewalk.

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    3. No need to be sorry! That was one I had no word for. So from now on I will call it a tree lawn.

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  3. I just took the test and it has Philadelphia area which is exactly so! I'll see what my husband's results are - he is a native of Chicago but has lived here in the Philly area for many years. What fun, thank you!
    Mary
    PS - Never new there were so many alternatives in terms and how we pronounce things so differently.

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    1. Interesting, right? Sometimes everything seems so homogenous--it's nice to know there are still regional differences. My husband is Philly too.

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    2. My husband took the test and it came up with the North Carolina area!
      His map had lots more areas in pink as well. He has always said that mid-westerners have a dialect representative of the whole country, a mix. Mine, in contrast, was totally blue with the red area in Philly.
      Fun!

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    3. Hmmm, Chicago + Philly = NC?

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  4. Mine came up with Providence, probably my Boston years combined with my Western New York upbringing. I didn't realize rotary was strictly a Massachusetts word. I was surprised not to see gutters vs. eaves troughs or shopping carts vs. buggies.

    I don't get that advertisement at all.

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    1. Providence? Are you parents Portuguese? Does Boston + Western NY = Providence? Hmm...

      I don't think rotary is strictly Massachusetts. There are just so darn many of them here. Maybe I'll go back and look at the map.

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  5. Hi Jen,
    Every time I come home from visiting family in Mass., I slip & refer to a rotary & friends look at me oddly. Does anyone in MA still frappe for a milkshake? And i alwsys liked hearing "grinder" in RI for a hero sandwich. Here in CO, natives say OHNry for
    ornery among others.
    Does the sign want people to buy a mini-storage unit to store their stuff perhaps? Thus freeing up room in their apt. for chopping onions properly! Just a hunch,
    Cheers,
    Diane in Denver

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    1. oops, make that still say frappe & always, sorry.
      Diane

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    2. Oh, maybe you're right about the sign. Put your a/c in storage in the winter so you have room to chop onions? Only in New York.

      I do hear people say frappe. I have a feeling the hoagie/grinder/sub question is a significant one. What do you call circles/rotaries in Denver?

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    3. Hi back Jen,
      We do not have rotaries out here; most everything is laid out in grids, in the towns. You can 't get lost, unlike suburban Boston where my kids live. Personally, I say traffic circles but that may come from time living in PA & MD. This was great fun, thanks! (Go, Broncos, btw)

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    4. p.s., re: "tree lawn," a prominent lsndscape designer out here calls them "hell strips" which I can 't stand but gardeners here have started using it. In NY, it 's "tree lawn " or "curb strip," as posted above.
      Diane

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    5. I'm rooting for Denver too. (I'm a Giants fan, so Peyton is my football brother-in-law. I love the awkwardness of "tree lawn" but "hell strip" is pretty funny.

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    6. There is also "curb strip" used around San Jose CA. Thanks for the help w. Broncos this past Sun.-- looks like it helped. But i fear we are doomed from now on when Bellicose Belicheck & Pretty Boy Brady come to visit. i dont think our Broncos defense can hold the line. But anything's possible in this best of all possible worlds," as Candide optimistically told us, non?
      Diane

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  6. Excellent! it picked up my 7 years in the South and even honed in on our former home, JaxFla. my give-aways: pop for soda pop, crawdad & you all, my guesses. Denver/Boulder have almost no accent & very few regionalisms, except they do use the incorrect "carmel" for car A mel & they do use the PA/OH "crik" for "creek," but not always. Great fun & thanks, Diane

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  7. I took it and it was right on the money for me, showed that I grew up in south Florida and was from the Northern NJ area which is true since I have lived here for 30 years. I thought I was very true in my answers, at least tried to be. Found it funny that there were things I had no words for :)

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    1. There were things I had no word for too!

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  8. Oh dear God, it showed Rochester, Rockingham and Buffalo. Pretty sure I have never lived in any of these areas.

    I am a mutt.

    xo J

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    1. Why does it not surprise me that you are the outlier? xo

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  9. Grew up in North Idaho/Spokane, WA, lived many years in D.C. area and Wyoming. It showed I was from Salt Lake City, Omaha or Des Moines. But my husband Jay who grew up in New Jersey and worked in Richmond, VA, D.C., and Wyoming, indicated he was from New Mexico. Go figure.

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    1. Go figure, indeed. I was curious what the response would be for people like us who have lived many years in different parts of the country, and was surprised that mine was so on point for one region.

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  10. Yes, definitely a Southerner. The pick city, Columbus, GA, is 50 miles from where I grew up. The others were Alabama cities so not so much. I have visited Birmingham but don't remember ever being in Montgomery, but guessing growing up in Southwest Ga has a bit of Alabama influence, too. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Now I wish I knew everyone's answers. (or at least some of them)
      Y'all? Crawdad?

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  11. Sadly, I know y'all all too well and doesn't everyone know about crawdads or crawdaddies?

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    1. Yes, but I call them crayfish and say "you guys". It's definitely hard to answer some of the questions--I tired to with with what I use most of the time.

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